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The Company

As one of the world’s leading specialty chemical companies, Clariant contributes to value creation through innovative and sustainable solutions for customers from many industries. The company’s portfolio is designed to meet very specific needs with as much precision as possible while also addressing key trends through research and development. This includes focusing on energy efficient, renewable raw materials, emission-free mobility, and conserving finite resources. Clariant’s business units are divided into four segments: Natural Resources, Plastics and Coatings, Catalysis and Energy, and Care Chemicals.

“During the diagnostic efforts and in general exchange with the business units, it became clear that supporting cross-functional learning is an important topic for us. With the end-to-end supply chain Root Learning Map® module, we were able to integrate that into our learning approach whilst not losing the opportunity to bring supply chain into the focus.”
Dirk Hamm (Head of Clariant Supply Chain Excellence)

The Business Need

Customer supply chain execution is crucial in Clariant’s increasingly demanding industry. To do this, the company wanted to better understand and translate its customers’ needs to supply chain execution, by aligning customer segmentation and supply chain services. This would enable the business to continue to solidify the brand as a high-quality provider focused on the needs of its customers, investors, partners, and employees. While examining its current processes, Clariant recognized the need to move the supply chain from a pure operational focus to become a value enabler, achieve excellence, manage complexity, and address the impact coming from rising market volatility. By introducing a new supply chain transformation program, Clariant would bring its entire supply chain program to life. To facilitate strategic knowledge building and strategy execution, Clariant chose to work with Root Inc., a consulting company that helps organizations focus on strategy execution through their people.

Christopher Spahn, Central Team Lead, Clariant Supply Chain System, said “When we analyzed the potential contribution of the Root Learning Map® approach, it became evident fairly quickly that both the attendee engagement and content delivery method can create a high impact in our journey towards a market-driven supply chain.”

The Solution

The goal of the project was to build strong process literacy around the organization’s forthcoming needs among everyone who touched the supply chain processes. Working together, Root and Clariant created the end-to-end supply chain Strategic Learning Map® module to effectively engage Clariant’s workforce, encourage active participation, and disseminate complex issues in a simple way.

Clariant’s leaders knew that arming the team with capabilities and understanding of related supply chain topics would lead to stronger alignment across business units and functions. Root and Clariant defined the Learning Map® module in five key stages (along with an implementation phase):

  • Align understanding of a common supply chain process
  • Build process understanding
  • Help employees understand their own role in cross-functional business processes
  • Identify opportunities to improve
  • Define actions to improve net working capital cost and service-level performance

Using the unique creative and visual methods that best support learning and understanding, the Strategic Learning Map® approach allows people to see the big picture of what the organization is trying to achieve, understand why the change is happening, and then arrive at their own conclusions as to how their individual roles help contribute directly to the business. This enables better internalization, advocacy, and results.

Once the end-to-end supply chain Root Learning Map® module was complete, Clariant arranged a pilot rollout to employees in interactive sessions with small cross-functional groups of 8–10 participants. The groups worked together using the visual Learning Map® module, data cards, and real-world scenarios to walk through the supply chain process, examining the interrelations between different functions and roles.
The entire initial rollout was planned to accomplish three key objectives:

  • Create a line of sight for the overall contribution expectations of the Root Learning Map® module
  • Connect Business Unit requirements and objectives with the Map and trainer needs
  • Develop internal training capabilities for the larger rollout

The next step would be for Clariant to launch the Root Learning Map® module company-wide.


Overall feedback from Clariant’s employees have been very positive. Pilot session participants commented that the approach clearly emphasized the need and the value of cross-functional participation and contribution.

Pilot session participants in early 2013.

The content from the pilot has meanwhile evolved for a company-wide roll-out. The company’s Clariant Academy will use the Strategic Learning Map® module as part of its larger Functional Excellence training.

Elke Lueders, Head of Clariant Academy Management, said, “The innovative Learning Map® approach plays a vital part in the Functional Excellence of our Clariant Academy. With the rollout that is now going to be accelerated, we will gain momentum in establishing common process literacy and an understanding of the way to work in Supply Chain. The more we learn about our business and its core processes, the easier it is to see our own role in its success – true to Clariant Academy’s motto: ‘Because you matter.’”

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